13.12.2012 - 17.12.2012 25 °C
Now in Buenos Aires, the capital city, taxi pick ups cost twice as much as when we were in Salta a few days ago. The hostel we’ve booked seems quite nice. The dude that checked us in was friendly and helpful and gave us a cup of coffee while he quickly tidied our room.
I asked if he was German, but he wasn’t. He asked if he sounded German (Why, do I sound German? – think heavy accent) and I sort of shit myself trying to back out of the accusation. Woz guessed every surrounding Germanic country...but in the end he was French.
He’s not held it against us.
Breakfast is nicer here than in Cordoba. We get some pastry doodads rather than just crap bread and jam (and dried milk). There’s also coffee and proper milk here, but the staff have to brew the coffee in a tea pot with a coffee filter...which takes them ages and the coffee’s cold by the time it’s done.
Their boss needs to join us in the 21st century...or even just take a step towards the 20th – if for nothing else than to save his staff some time.
We really like Kilca Hostel; it feels like a cafe that you can spend the night in. It’s a very relaxed atmosphere and all guests and staff friendly and helpful at the time of our stay.
Today, we tried out el Subte (the underground) to get to and from the Recoleta area. It only costs 2.50 AR pesos per trip to get around, and the A-Line in particular was neat. The carriages were wooden and you had to manually pull the doors open to disembark.
Our main reason for going to Recoleta was to visit the cemetery there (where Evita is buried, among a trillion other people- an estimate). Back at street level, Warren walked me around for flipping ages until he admitted that he’d taken a wrong turn somewhere and we’d walked 10 giant extra blocks.
I was hating life.
Fortunately, the cemetery was amazing and so full of dead people that I was happy with life again. It was like a city full of graves with skyscrapers and street lights.
It was incredible.
Some of the tombs are well looked after, but others could use some repairs. It’s a bit sad really. At one time, these graves were maintained by wealthy families...but once everyone in the family is dead, things are just left to fall apart.
Most of the tombs you can look into and see the coffins and urns – occasionally you’d find one that had boxes and coffins stacked up on top of each other.
I felt a bit guilty taking photographs (what with all the angels judging me), but eventually I got over it and snapped away. I wouldn’t give a shit if people wanted to photograph my grave, so I hope these didn’t mind either.
On our way from the Subte to the hostel, Woz was handed a newspaper/propaganda that said LAS MALVINAS SON ARGENTINOS; he spent his evening researching more about the Falklands.
Tango night tonight! It’s a Friday, and we’re really looking forward to our meal and show tonight.
We met up with the free walking tour this morning at 11am near to Congreso. The guide was really good; he seems to be the main boss dude of the organisation. We walked around the downtown area for about two and a half hours. We checked out the main monuments of city, and the guide spoke about Argentina’s recent Dirty War and the desaparecidos.
We had a quick break for a coffee/snack mid tour where we tried a submarino. This is hot milk with a bar of chocolate chucked in to slowly and deliciously melt, creating a super tasty hot chocolate. Plus, it has a cool name. We’re big fans.
Unfortunately, Woz got a migraine for the second half of the tour, but he stuck it out until the end. We walked back to hostel afterwards and Woz slept off most of the yuck.
The evening was spent showering and trying to snazz up our travel clothes (travel hair, and travel faces) to look as presentable as possible. We waited around the hostel’s courtyard until our pick up for the tango night arrived. The taxi was a swish van full of Eastern European men laughing at jokes we can only presume were seedy. Their laughter sounded seedy.
We had booked the show at Esquina Homer Manzi as it was the cheapest one on the whole of TangoTix’s website. Reviews on TripAdvisor were mostly ‘exceeded our expectations!’, so we were hopeful.
img=http://photos.travellerspoint.com/408559/DSC_3066.jpg caption=A sample of sherry]
A four course meal was included, as well as a bottle of wine. We both ordered a steak and knocked back a bottle of red. The steak was lush. I think this is the only type of beef I like.
The show itself included a five piece band (piano, guitar, double bass, accordion, and violin) and four couples that took turns dancing around the stage dramatically. There was also a man and woman that sang, but the music sounded really cheesy...and we didn’t have a clue what they were singing about. The rest of the crowd (primarily OAPs), however, were loving it.
We had a fantastic waiter who took the piss out of Warren’s “Spanish”. He spoke to Woz only in English after hearing him attempt to order his food; but Spanish when he was taking the piss. He also “gifted” us a bottle of wine towards the end of the show. The menu said we were only allowed a bottle per two people; we had to chug as much as possible before our return transfer to the hostel dragged us away from the table.
Both are happy with the choice we made to splash out on booking the show. Apparently it’s possible to see tango for free in the streets, but not guaranteed.
Breakfast this morning included a couple of Scottish travellers, Marie and Ryan. Well, we didn’t eat them, but we chatted to them for two hours or something ridiculous. Eventually, the four of us peeled ourselves off the chairs to carry on with our respective days.
They seem a really sound couple; it’s nice to share travel stories with such a down to earth pair. We’ve met a lot of nice people on our journey so far, but many of them end up telling you how little they spent on something and we’ve felt really competitive about our budget. Or occasionally, we’re told how something could have been done in a superior way. This wasn’t the case at all with Marie and Ryan. They seemed honest and, to be fair, anyone who can sit through my stories for over two hours deserves a bit of respect.
After all the walking and sightseeing over the last few days, I wanted to relax in the hostel. Warren explained to me that “we’re not on vacation, we’re travelling,” but agreed to let me slob for the first half of the day.
In the afternoon, we went on another walking tour with the same company as before. This one was meant to be the cultural tour as opposed to general. It was more political than cultural, and the guide (a very clever student with English/Argentine parents) was very talkative.
I don’t want to deduct points for this; you’ve gotta be chatty in this line of work, but Woz and I both found ourselves drifting away from the conversation on occasion. My legs were also aching from having to stand for such a long time. This tour took over three hours, but had far less stops than the first.
Still, it was an interesting tour, and was a good opportunity to get to know Buenos Aires even better.
We got the Subte back from Recoleta to the hostel where we continued our newfound DrinksInTheEvening tradition. Warren was on Furnet and Coke. Furnet is a popular drink here in Argentina – not sure if it’s Italian in origin? At any rate, our guide the day before had said: you drink whiskey to get depressed, beer with football, and Furnet when you want to party.
It was a party of one for WoWo. I stuck to wine instead (but did finish off the bottle). Ryan and Marie were in the common area, so we had another good chat with them until midnight. Ryan sampled some of Woz’s Furnet as well. Apparently, it grows on you.
We were all in the common area to work on our travel blogs, but distracted each other enough to get very little accomplished.
If you’re interested in the lovely Scottish couple’s travels across Latin America (they do loads more excursions and trekking than us as they’re hardcore), check out their blog: blog.
It’s been a proper Sunday today. We decided to walk to the San Telmo area with Ryan and Marie.
It pissed it down on the way to the markets (Why didn’t we pack an umbrella?!). The markets in San Telmo all seemed to be selling antiques.
Right up Woz’s street!
The main sorts of things that were on offer were: soda bottles (fancy Argentinian ones...can’t explain better than that I’m afraid), old pull down maps of the country and continent, posters, and loads of old tat.
We hid in the indoor market for a bit trying to wait out the rain, but ended up back outside where we bought some old sheet music to frame when we get back to the States.
Also purchased some magnets for the fridge as Woz isn’t impressed with our current collection.
All of us were pretty cold and too cheap to pay for coffees in the touristy area, so bought some overpriced empanadas in from the indoor market and headed back to the hostel.
In the afternoon, we went booking mad and made reservations for the rest of our hostels and bus journeys. We were a little worried we’d have issues with the dates over Christmas, but all was well.
Apart from that pesky Santiago-Lima flight.
No buses were travelling from Santiago to Lima over the holidays, so we had to splash out on very expensive flights instead. We’re over it now, but if you do decide to travel over the holidays, we recommend you stay in one place for the last week of December.
Marie and Ryan got our room when we checked out. They’re hoping that as it’s further from the kitchen and bathrooms, it will have fewer cockroaches. Eek.
We tracked down an internet cafe where we could print all those tickets we bought yesterday, and took out some cash money to exchange in Uruguay.
We also ventured into La Boca (literally, the mouth – of the river). This area was highly recommended in guidebooks and websites due to its colourful buildings and tango in the streets. We found it to be a photogenic place, but full of people trying to drag you into bars with overpriced drinks, pin flags onto your shirt for money, beg for your custom in their shops, etc.
There were also “tango dancers” dotted around hoping to pose for photographs with you for a few pesos. We were less than impressed.
Additionally, we’d heard a couple horror stories about people getting mugged in the area, and we weren’t super comfortable walking around with our new swish camera.
In total, we spent less than thirty minutes in the area. What a shame.
We hopped back into a taxi to San Telmo where we hoped to explore further (now it wasn’t raining). This meant we got to see the plaza without antiques vendors, and after a good search around, we found a cheap pizza place to spend our last 40 pesos.
After lunch, we walked to the docks area in Puerto Madero. This was a really nice neighbourhood with loads of big name companies and their staff having lunch in expensive trendy restaurants. I’m glad our bellies were full of cheap pizza, or I would have been envious.
Buenos Aires also has an ecological park near to the docks. We had a little sit down in the grass here, but were getting eaten alive by mosquitoes. We pushed ourselves on back to the hostel.
Our ferry across the river to Montevideo left quite early in the evening compared to our recent night bus departures. We left the hostel around 5 to get to the Colonia Express docks. Immigration here was a piece of piss – both Argentina/Uruguay stamps were taken care of without question.
I suppose there was the little mishap where they had given my passport to another girl in the waiting area. Thankfully, she handed it to me soon after.
We were excited for the ferry (it was a proper boat this time, no rafts for miles!). The trip was pretty quick and uneventful. There were expensive gaseosas available (and a duty free), but no water.
It wasn’t quite dark yet by the time we arrived to the Uruguayan coast...